Former ‘LinkedIn for blue collar workers’ startup Sample rebrands and pivots for new $2.4 million Seed raise

- May 4, 2023 2 MIN READ
Mercu cofounders Elliott Gibb and Jascha Zittel
Mercu cofounders Elliott Gibb and Jascha Zittel back in 2021 wearing their Sample swag
The founders of Sequoia Capital-backed Sample have rebranded and changed the focus of the business, raising another $2.4 million Seed round from new investors in the process.

As Sample, cofounded in 2021 by former Grab staffers Jascha Zittel and Elliott Gibb, the startup raised $920,000 in pre-Seed funding, led by Sequoia Capital India, in December 2021.

Their original idea was to be “LinkedIn for essential workers”, and a “career HQ” for sectors such as hospitality, retail, warehousing, transport and logistics, trades, and personal care services.

But it appears that idea didn’t deliver the traction they hoped for, and last year the startup changed tack and name. It’s now Mercu, a employee engagement platform for the “deskless workforce”, which automates workforce communication across onboarding, training, and shifts via the chat apps companies already use, including Whatsapp, SMS/iMessage, and LINE. The company is working on introducing FB Messenger, Kakao, and Telegram to its platform.

Sequoia Capital India once again backed the revamped startup’s new vision in its Seed round, with Steve Baxter’s Queensland syndicate fund, TEN13, 500 Global, Flying Fox Ventures, Archangel Ventures and XA Network also chipping in.

The premise behind Mercu is that 99% of workplace communication tools are built for desk-based employees, and when companies started using them for workers not a desks during the Covid pandemic, they didn’t work.

“These makeshift solutions were prohibitively expensive, required email logins and complex implementations, had terrible mobile UX and were built for tech-savvy users,” the startup says on its site.

“They were not cut out for the geographically-scattered, time-poor deskless workers. So we decided to build Mercu. A cutting-edge solution to simplify deskless jobs and making them less stressful.”

Mercu also enable managers to run monthly pulse checks and engagement surveys via chat to measure employee satisfaction, alongside automating check-ins, 360 reviews and performance reports.

The Sydney software startup counts Mexican fast food chain Guzman y Gomez and African B2C marketplace startup Kapu among its customer base.